US Department of State Reviews

Updated June 29, 2015
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372 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great, opening doors to valuable policy experience

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Fascinating work
    Amazing exposure to policy making

    Cons

    moving as a foreign service officer can be challenging for a family.


  2. Two Class System

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    You get to work on big picture problems, help American citizens, and learn about the world.

    Cons

    Two class system. If you are a foreign service officer, you are afforded more opportunities. Civil service employees are largely pigeonholed under the guise of 'continuity' and looked down upon. Worse so if you are a contractor.

    Advice to Management

    Streamline all processes. Whether it is getting clearances , writing EERs, or just getting approval to travel, there are horrible inefficiencies in the day to day operations. You need to empower your workers more - lots of smart people who are forced into a consensus model results in sub-optimal decision making.


  3. Bureaucratic but very supportive

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Political Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Political Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Colleagues are intelligent and thoughtful. Ability to travel to anywhere in the world.

    Cons

    Necessity of serving anywhere in the world. The work can feel tedious and overly constraining at times.

    Advice to Management

    Provide younger employees with more challenging opportunities.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Easy living but not fulfilling

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Information Management Specialist
    Current Employee - Information Management Specialist

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - Paid for housing/utilities overseas
    - Live in interesting places
    - If you have kids, access to some great international schools

    Cons

    - Severe skill atrophy
    - Ridiculous bureaucracy
    - Risk and change aversion of the highest order
    - Severely behind the times in terms of technology

    If you just want to get by with a good retirement and see cool places, it's great. If you want something more out of your career, this may not be the place for you.

    Advice to Management

    Flatten the hierarchy, reduce the power of diplomatic security, dial back the culture of entitlement.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Important work, needs more innovation and expertise

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very important work, execute the nuts and bolts of US foreign policy.
    Get to travel all over the world and be on the front lines of diplomacy

    Cons

    Long security clearance process can delay process and be costly for applicants, esp those that have ties to problematic countries, such as China and Russia.
    Don't have much control over where you go or what you do for the first several tours. Even if you sign up to be a political officer, you could spend the first 4 years being a consular officer on the visa line
    Can be difficult to achieve work-life balance, especially for families, bc constantly moving around
    Full potential of employees is underutilized -- many FSOs are overqualified for their jobs, despite the rigorous entrance process
    Subject matter expertise is not valued as much as it should be. FSOs are supposed to be generalists and move every 2-3 years to combat localitis, but this means that half the tour is wasted on a steep learning curve. Institutional continuity should be encouraged, not constantly disrupted
    Creativity and innovation is disincentivized bc job performance/promotion is based on how well you complete your current responsibilities

    Advice to Management

    Embrace a culture that incentivizes creativity and innovation
    Value subject matter/country expertise as an asset essential to providing a contextual and nuanced understanding of foreign policy, not as a security threat


  7. Helpful (1)

    very uninspired management

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Contractor in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Contractor in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    big, well-known employer
    helps when applying for other jobs

    Cons

    very bureaucratic
    poor managers
    the secretary of state himself is fine but huge lack of leadership and management talent


  8. Helpful (1)

    Interior Designer

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Comp & Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Such a rewarding job! Opportunity for growth and advancement is A+.

    Cons

    PSC do not receive full benefits such as the Direct Hires/GS positions. GS can't get fired as easily as a contractor/PSC.

    Advice to Management

    Communication & respect!


  9. Helpful (1)

    Information Management Specialist

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Information Technology in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Information Technology in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    You get to live and work in awesome places all over the world.

    Cons

    You have to live and work in some truly awful places.

    Advice to Management

    Great organization to work for.


  10. Good. Even better under Hillary.

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    You're doing the most important work in the world. Lots of talented colleagues, and the opportunity to work on amazing issues with global impact.

    Cons

    Long hours, below market compensation, a sprawling, sometimes duplicative bureaucracy, senior leadership that is only interested in two or three issues -- and frequently picks the wrong battles.

    Advice to Management

    Remember that there is a world beyond the Middle East. Try to focus a few hours a week on long-term strategic goals beyond pet priorities.


  11. Helpful (1)

    Community Liason Officer

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Always changing interesting work.
    You wear many hats.

    Cons

    Paperwork and reports are time consuming



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